Over the years a wealth of environmental data has been collected by organisations and individuals looking to utilise available land and natural resources as well as conserve the islands natural heritage and biodiversity. But accurate island-wide detailed vegetation and soil mapping and derived datasets are urgently required to help understand biodiversity, species (particularly endemic) geographic distribution, protect and restore native habitats, control invasive species, aid sustainable agriculture, land resource planning and water resource management.
Existing data comprises of 35-year old maps, localised and targeted data collection, disparate datasets and historical paper reports. Establishing a ‘living map’ for the island, using remote sensing, field-based surveying and a terrain model, will provide a detailed broader geographic baseline facilitating future updates.
The main aims of the project include production of a series of maps, datasets and a ‘living map’ of some of the environmental conditions on St Helena, using historical and current information and creating a baseline and a series of snapshots in time.
Due to the terrain and difficult access, accurately field surveying the entire island is unfeasible; use of multi-spectral remotely sensed imagery provides a practical solution for creating initial land cover, vegetation and soil classifications. Satellite imagery will be used to create initial classifications and supported by field investigation and existing data. Recent work with St Helena’s environmental and geospatial data has resulted in a good understanding of what relevant information already exists in SHG departments and local organisations.